Have you seen a glassy, clear ball of sweetness floating in a cup of boba tea? If so, you’ve seen crystal boba!
Crystal boba is the latest craze among bubble tea enthusiasts, and it’s been gaining traction over the past few years.
But what is crystal boba? Let’s explore this unique type of boba and find out why it’s become so popular.
What Is Boba?
Before we can get into what crystal boba is, it’s important to understand what traditional boba is first. Boba, or bubble tea, originated in Taiwan in the late 1980s and has become increasingly popular worldwide.
Bubble tea consists of a cold milk tea or fruit tea base filled with chewy tapioca pearls, also known as “bubbles” or “boba.” Tapioca pearls are made from tapioca starch and brown sugar, which gives the characteristic brown color.
As this drink has grown in popularity, so too have its flavors! Traditional boba flavors include classic milk teas, taro milk teas, matcha milk teas, and various fruity variations. Often these drinks come topped with a mountain of tapioca pearls for extra texture and flavor.
What Is Crystal Boba?
So, now that we know what traditional boba is, let’s talk about crystal boba!
Crystal boba looks similar to traditional tapioca pearls, but they have a much more interesting texture and are known for their chewy, translucent appearance.
In the beginning, they are soft like regular tapioca pearls, but after sitting in liquid for a few minutes, they become firm yet bouncy. These crystals are slightly larger than traditional boba and are clear in color.
What Is Crystal Boba Made Of?
Unlike most other types of boba, which are made from tapioca flour, crystal boba is made from the konjac plant. Crystal boba requires less cooking than tapioca pearls.
At home, it is easier to use agar powder or gelatin to make crystal boba. Agar powder, or agar-agar, is a thickening agent derived from seaweed that can be used as an alternative to gelatin.
Agar is made from seaweed, so it is vegan-friendly. In some recipes, the konjac plant is also used as a vegan alternative to gelatin.
Using Agar Powder Instead of Gelatin
Agar and gelatin are gelling agents used in food and other products to give them a firm, jelly-like texture.
However, there are some differences between the two:
- Vegan-friendly and vegan alternative – Agar is derived from seaweed, while gelatin is derived from animal collagen.
- Richer in nutrients – Fiber, manganese, magnesium, iron, and moderate amounts of calcium, potassium, zinc, copper, choline, folate (B9), and vitamins E and K are all present in agar. Gelatin contains no carbohydrates or fiber but contains calcium, magnesium, folate, sodium, choline, and selenium and is protein-rich.
- Fewer calories – Agar is also low in calories and fat, while gelatin is high in protein (98-99%). The difference isn’t big, around 2 calories per tablespoon.
- Has more health benefits – Agar improves digestion, regulates blood sugar, strengthens bones, and enhances weight loss. While gelatin, because of proteins, helps to promote skin, joint, hair, nail, and gut health.
I prefer to use agar powder because, in my opinion, it has more benefits than gelatin. So, whether you like to use agar-agar or gelatin, both are decent gelling agents and are suitable for crystal boba.
What Does Crystal Boba Taste Like?
Depending on how it’s made. If no sugar is added, they don’t have much of a taste; fair to say they are tasteless. But crystal boba can absorb a layer of sweetness when added to bubble tea or other beverages.
When sugar is added, they taste (slightly) sweet, and when added to bubble tea, crystal boba adds a bit of sweetness without overpowering the drink.
So, it can have a mild sweet taste with an almost jelly-like texture that contrasts with the smoothness of your favorite beverage. Some people compare it to gummy bears or jellybeans due to its chewy consistency and flavor profile.
The main difference between regular boba and crystal boba is in its textures – traditional boba has more of an al dente bite, while crystal boba has a softer chewiness that melts in your mouth quickly.
Where To Buy Crystal Boba?
If you want to try crystal boba, you can find it at most bubble tea shops worldwide.
However, if you don’t have access to one near you, plenty of online retailers sell crystal boba for home use. For example, you can order crystal boba from Amazon.
Wrapping It Up
If you read the article, you noticed that I talked about popping boba and tapioca pearls, known as traditional or classic boba. You can read more about them: